When I got to Danny's class to volunteer the other day, they were about to read a story about jungle animals. Danny sat very close to me as all the girls in his class edged closer. I swear they see an adult, and they all swarm like a bunch of locusts. As Mrs. M was reading her book, Lulu * kept chatting my ear off about her earrings and her pierced ears. The kid would not quit talking. I kept shushing her. I didn't want to get into trouble; that's all I need is to be scolded by a kindergarten teacher. My self-esteem is tenuous at best, I so do not need to be taken down with a chatty kindergartener. I mean, what would I say if I were banned from Danny's class for excessive talking? I mean sheesh kid, shut it already.
When we went to centers, I was assigned to the art center. The kids had to draw a rainbow in the time they were with me. I was busy. I helped kids locate the correct color markers, listened to a girl's tirade about why her mother needs to get her a Facebook account, and gently corrected some bossy girls who were criticizing a little boy's drawing. I foresee a life of husband nagging in their future, but maybe with my guidance I prevented at least one of them from becoming a shrew. If so, it will have all been worth it.
I started to get bored, so I decided to play a bit with the kids. They were surprised that I knew many of their names (it took them a surprisingly long time to remember they were all wearing their name tags), so I maybe sort of led them to believe I was magical. OK, yeah, so I told them I was a "magic reader" who could read anything, which they interpreted to mean I had some kind of special ESP. I chose not to disabuse them of this assumption.
What? Hey, it's not my fault they are super gullible, is it?
One girl started spelling some of their "sight words" which were posted on the board behind my head. She was shocked that I could tell her the word before she had even finished spelling it. The exchange went a little something like this:
Rita Mae: "R-e-d"
Rita Mae: "B-l-u..."
Rita Mae: "O-r-a..."
Me: "Orange! Whoohoo!"
Rita Mae: "P-u..."
Me: "Purple! Yes! I rock! See? I am too magical!"
While praising the kids' haphazardly drawn rainbows (except for my kid's. His was perfect, of course) I noticed a girl sitting at the computers and writhing and wiggling in apparent agony. Attention was being drawn to her, but as she was across the room from the teacher, Mrs. M didn't notice what was going down. I tried to get Gertie's attention, and when I finally did, I asked what was wrong. She said she had to go to the bathroom. I told her to go talk with the teacher, but Gertie was terrified she would get in trouble. They had just had a bathroom break about 20 minutes earlier, so she was convinced Mrs. M would be annoyed.
The kid had a point. Mrs. M does seem to get a bit peeved about such things; of course, she deals with kindergarteners all day long, so who can really blame her?
I motioned for Gertie to talk to the teacher. No dice.
I whispered furtively trying to get her to take courage and relieve herself. She wasn't convinced.
I finally left my rainbow post and approached the wiggly girl. I put my arm around her and said, "Sweetheart, go talk to Mrs. M so you can go to the bathroom. You'll feel much better. Believe me."
"No," she replied weepily, "I don't want to get in trouble."
Frantically, I tried again. "You have to go to the bathroom. There is no way you can hold it. And you don't want to pee all over yourself, do you?"
I was *this close* to sharing the story of Stinky McNicholas, the kid who peed himself in my first grade class and never, to this day, has he lived it down. I don't even remember the poor kid's first name. After 8 years of grade school together, I still think of him as "Stinky McNicholas." I didn't want to traumatize poor Gertie, but I was running out of options. She had no idea how close to ruination her social life was.
I personally thought she was being pretty shortsighted. I mean, did she want to never get a prom date? Did she really think getting in trouble now was worse than 12 years of mockery and teasing? Was she interested in consigning herself to the outcast clique for the rest of her school days, all the while plotting revenge ala Carrie? I mean, c'mon, kid. Man up and save your future social prospects, right?
I finally managed to convince the girl to approach Mrs. M and what did she say?
"Mrs. M, I have to go to the bathroom. I have to poop really bad."
If Stinky McNicholas thought he had it bad, the collapse of his social standing was nothing compared to the disaster Gertie had just narrowly averted, thanks to my intervention. Poop? Seriously? I don't care how smart or beautiful or cool Gertie became, she could never live down pooping herself.
I left Mrs. M's class feeling pretty smug in my accomplishments. Sure, I was exhausted after a mere 55 minutes in that class, my patience had been tested and I was really anxious to be away from that many kids, but still, I had achieved more than most people do in a lifetime.
* Names have been changed to protect the innocent.